25 Soft Food Ideas for Cancer Patients

Many medical treatments recommend that cancer patients adopt a “soft diet,” a diet made up of foods that are easy to chew and swallow.

The side effects of treatment may include loss of appetite, mouth sores, nausea and fatigue, which can make it difficult to eat or cook. Similarly, patients who previously underwent surgery or have dental problems/dentures may have similar restrictions.

To offer some inspiration for those with health-related dietary constraints, we compiled 25 soft food ideas for patients. Check out the tasty options:


Pasta dishes are a great options because of the chewable quality of noodles and the ease of incorporating a lot of healthy veggies in the dish. Plus, pasta is just plain yummy.

1. Lasagna roll-ups

2. Mac n’ Cheese

3. Bolognese

This can be a great way to get your protein in, because ground meat in sauce is often small enough to not pose a chewing problem.

Soft Fruits and Vegetables

Vegetables are crucial for your health due to their high vitamin content. They’re easily softened in the cooking process through steaming, pureeing or baking, so getting your veggies should be no problem. Many fruits are naturally soft, which makes getting your fruit fill easy.

4. Mashed sweet potatoes

Tip: Add cinnamon butter and a little brown sugar to make this veggie extra-tasty.

5. Avocados/Guacamole

6. Broccoli steamed with cheese sauce

7. Bananas


Hearty and delicious, soup is an obvious winner in the soft food category. Just make sure to avoid or strain soups with large chunks of vegetables or meat.

8. Tomato soup

9. Clam chowder

10. Chicken noodle

11. Butternut Squash

12. Potato leek soup


Getting your protein may seem a bit tricky, but by cooking meat low and slow and focusing on naturally softer sources of protein, you can still enjoy many different foods.

13. Fish without bones (baked, poached, steamed)

14. Slow-cooked chicken with cream sauce

15. Hard-boiled or soft scrambled eggs


Snack away! Many delicious snacks are easy to eat and will keep you full between meals.

16. Applesauce

Tip: If homemade, cook with cinnamon.

17. Cottage cheese with diced ripe strawberries

18. Oatmeal

19. Yogurt/smoothies

20. Hummus with soft pita bread


Who doesn’t love a sweet treat? Fortunately, there are many desserts that are both delicious and soft enough to enjoy anytime!

21. Tapioca or chocolate pudding

22. Ice cream/sherbet

23. Jell-O

24. Popsicles (store-bought or homemade)

25. Banana cream pie

For more ideas, check out the American Institute for Cancer Research’s great list of healthy recipes for cancer patients.

Baby Food

You read that right. Some cancer patients turn to baby foods, which are usually very nutritious. Baby food is also tempered with many vitamins and minerals, which means it’s both easy to eat and healthy.


Though not a food, water is still important to mention. The effects of cancer treatment can lead to dehydration, and when you’re dehydrated, your body doesn’t function the way it should. Try these tips to help stave off dehydration:

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (more if you have diarrhea or vomiting)
  • Drink other liquids like milk, juice, sports drinks, tea or coffee
  • Suck on ice chips
  • Record how much you drink to help you keep track

Foods to Avoid With Cancer

When on a soft diet, it can be helpful to stay away from foods that are hard to chew or swallow. These can include:

  • Hard starches like crusty bread or hard cereal
  • Raw, crunchy fruits and vegetables like celery, carrots and apples
  • Dried, tough, or chunks of meat like beef jerky or casseroles with large pieces of meat
  • Peanut or almond butter or other sticky or stringy foods which can be hard to swallow

Important: Make sure to always talk to your doctor before changing your diet and/or water intake. He or she will be able to offer guidance that suits your specific health needs.

Tip: To help coordinate tasks like meal sign up, picking up meds, and more, the CaringBridge Planner is an all-inclusive scheduling tool to help you request and receive – support with everyday tasks. It’s all there, with a time and place for each task and space for anyone who wants to help.

Start a CaringBridge Site

When you’re going through a health journey, you have a lot on your plate. CaringBridge replaces the time-consuming task of sharing your health news over and over. It’s a free, easy to use online journal for sharing health information with your family and friends.  

Don’t go through your health journey alone.

You can stay connected to friends and family, plan and coordinate meals, and experience love from any distance.

All of this is ready for you when you start your personal CaringBridge site, which is completely free of charge, ad-free, private and secure. Don’t spend another minute alone!

What Are Your Favorite Soft Foods?

We want to hear it from you. What other soft food options do you or your loved ones enjoy the most? Comment below!

  • Pamula

    I’m taking chemo now. I’m having a hard time finding something that tastes good. The nausea is awful.

  • N

    I had the metallic taste problem with silverware.. someone suggested to go buy a set of the plastic silverware that looked like normal silverware. It helped me. Good luck to you all.

  • LoriAnnBagley

    Home-made chicken soup

  • Jan Faires

    – Jello made with vanilla ice cream ( or ice milk or frozen yogurt) instead of cold water – custard or pudding, if milk can be tolerated – mashed potatoes and gravy

  • Linda Greenspan

    Good list however, when I had my chemo I not only had trouble swallowing but my taste buds became numb. So the problem was that many carbs, meats, even soft ones were not palpable due to bitter metallic taste. Eggs, clear broth, pudding and jello were what I lived on for 2 out of every 3 weeks. Bottom line is that cancer patients on chemo need to find what works best for them.

  • Kathleen Ayers

    Not just for cancer patients! My daughter has a rare genetic disorder and we will eventually have to move her to a soft foods diet. Thanks for these ideas!

  • Arlene Bodensieck

    I also enjoy Cream of Wheat. I make the regular with milk but you can buy it instant also.

  • Elizabeth J Acosta

    Just found out about Cancer in my husbands stomach. They recommend soft diet.

  • Kamiki Johnson

    Hello my mom has Cancer in her lower intestine and she isn’t eating, everything has a bad taste and causing her to throw up I don’t know what to do and what she can eat that want cause her pain in her stomach